It always seemed…


I follow, well “liked” Canberra Punk and Beyond on Facebook when it was first launched a couple of years ago. As the info blurb says – the group is there to….”CANBERRA INDEPENDENT MUSIC 70’S/80’S-ANYONE WHO WAS THERE-SHARE PHOTOS,MUSIC,STORIES FROM THE PERIOD.1977-1992″

There have been some gigs in the last few years, with some of the old bands reforming for the night, and other bands who never really broke up…and are still playing (albeit infrequently) 35 or so years later. Punk music happened for me at a pretty seminal stage in my life as a 16, 17 year old. There is going to be a book out about it all later in the year, and more music, and more times to reconnect with the old crowd. The book ‘Head full of flames’ will be launched at the Canberra Museum & Gallery in September. The editors were after stories and photos, so I provided the following. Not at all sure if my contribution will make the book, and I don’t mind really….but my post today has the text that I sent. I wrote this on the final day for submissions. I called the doc ‘it always seemed’, so here goes….a little bit of my past!

Looking back, 35 years back. Way back then…


One minute it seemed liked all there was to listen to were fluffy songs, super groups and MOR, and the next minute a musical explosion of gigantic proportions. Some of it so raw it hurt.


A great time for a full music revolution, for that’s what it was. Being 16, 17, what a great time for music to be turned on its head. And there were loads of bands in Canberra. There seemed to be always someone to see…either at the uni, a pub, a school, in a hired hall or a party. Or even just sitting in on band practice. Great timing also for first real experiences with drugs, drink, sex. All that and music. Impact Records. Records. Tangible music.


There was a lot of energy, heaps of it. Enough for manic, crazy dancing all night, singing along to your favourite bands. Lots of happy times, lots of laughing. Things were funny, ridiculous even. I didn’t even look like a punk most of the time, but I remember my mum upset because my hair was too short. Really?

Making do

Lots of making do. Watching band practise in houses, laneways, parks, freezing halls.  Canberra is not so conducive to the outdoors most of the year. It was either really hot, boiling hot – or really cold, freezing cold (which suited the whole punk wardrobe anyway). Lugging PA equipment around. Doing the lights! Searching for a lift, someone with a car, a PA, a venue… But there was always somewhere to see bands – lots more live music venues and schools and you could hire a hall if no one had a venue.


Not much of it. But our thrills were cheap. A couple of dollars to see a band, and a couple more to buy a jug of beer or cider. Lots of people lived away from home. It was pretty cheap and it’s what you did. We lived in a large rambling house on Northbourne Ave (since demolished and now a ten floor apartment building). Rent $20 a week each. Great place with a bathroom reminiscent of something out of ‘the Shining’.


I have very few photos of this time. I guess we lived in the moment. Tech was different.

Yep, left with…the memories, the friendships and the music!

end…..I didn’t include the photo and comment below…

Kate Redfern, Sydney Maybe Chelsea St where we lived? I was 21??

Redfern, Sydney
Maybe Chelsea St where we lived?
I was 21??

I picked this photo which was taken after I left Canberra, because I have so few photos of the time! Great now that Isabel wears my cherished green suede ‘Levis for gals’ jacket!

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